The Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon (Greek: δωδεκα, dodeka, "twelve" + θεον, theon, "of the gods"), in Greek religion, were the principal gods of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus. There were, at various times, fourteen different gods recognized as Olympians, though never more than twelve at one time.
Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, and Artemis are always considered Olympians. Hestia, Demeter, Dionysus, and Hades are the variable gods among the Twelve. Hestia gave up her position as an Olympian to Dionysus in order to live among mankind (eventually she was assigned the role of tending the fire on Mount Olympus). Persephone spent six months of the year in the underworld (causing winter), and was allowed to return to Mount Olympus for the other six months in order to be with her mother, Demeter. And, although Hades was always one of the principal Greek gods, his home in the underworld of the dead made his connection to the Olympians more tenuous.
The Olympians gained their supremacy in the world of gods after Zeus led his siblings to victory in war with the Titans; Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, and Hades were siblings; all other Olympians (with the exception of foam-born Aphrodite) are usually considered the children of Zeus by various mothers, except for Athena, who in some versions of the myth was born of Zeus alone. Additionally, some versions of the myth state that Hephaestus was born of Hera alone as Hera's revenge for Zeus' solo birth of Athena.
- Zeus is the highest ranking and most powerful god, the ruler of Mount Olympus
- Poseidon, together with Hades is one of the two next most senior gods, controlling the oceans
- Hades is the second of the next most senior gods, taking care of all souls after they leave the earth
- Athena is the goddess of wisdom, the arts, inner beauty, education and war. She was also to succeed Zeus as ruler of the universe
- Ares is the god of war and heroes
- Artemis is the goddess of the hunt, animals, fertility and chastity
- Hephaestus is the god of fire, workmanship, artisans and weaponry
- Apollo is the god of dance, music, healing and medicine, archery and reason. Apollo's relationships are always flawed.
- Hermes is the god of guidance, travelers, shepherds, consolation and reunions, and messenger of the Gods.
- Aphrodite is the goddess of love, sexuality, outer beauty and attraction
- Hera is the consort of Zeus, and the goddess of marriage, sacrifices and fidelity
- Hestia is the goddess of the home, family and the hearth
- Demeter is the goddess of the earth, flowers and plants, food, preservation of marriage and agriculture
- Dionysus is the youngest god of the pantheon, and is the god of theater, intoxication, wine and sexuality